Scream Queens: Why It’s The Best Thing on TV Right Now

In my eyes, Ryan Murphy is a bloody genius. After he became one of TV’s most high-profile names following the success of my favourite show Glee (read about my passion for that show here), he set to work on one of the most popular shows of the moment: American Horror Story. But when Glee came to an end and Ryan Murphy realised he had to fill that gap in his heart, what would he do? Create what is essentially a mashup of Glee and AHS of course… Scream Queens! If you follow me on Twitter then you’d know that I am already head-over-heels in love with this show because it is right up my street, so before the show makes its UK premiere on E4 in the coming weeks, I thought I’d tell you why I love the show so much and why it might just be the next big show for you.
If nothing else is going to compel you to watch this show then just take a look at the cast. A fantastic range of talent and star-power including Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee-Curtis, Lea Michele, Ariana Grande, Skyler Samuels, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer and Nick Jonas make up the headliners for this series and it’s a force not to be reckoned with. Emma Roberts plays Chanel Oberlin, your cliche sorority bitch who makes sure she always has the most power in the room. Her character is as bitchy as it gets, but that doesn’t stop her from being the funniest character on the show, either. Ariana Grande, Billie Lourd and Abigail Breslin take on her entourage: Chanel #2, Chanel #3 and Chanel #5 respectively (Chanel #4 no longer exists because, as Chanel Oberlin says in the Pilot: “she got sick and died”). Lea Michele takes on Hester; a girl with a neckbrace who starts off by trying to fit in and succeeds pretty quickly as the series progresses. Meanwhile, Grace (Skyler Samuels) and Zayday (Keke Palmer) try to work out what on Earth went on in the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority twenty years ago and if the events that occurred are in any way linked to the serial killer in the red devil costume who is on the loose all this time later. Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee-Curtis) tries to keep the school from losing its reputation with the “help” of Denise the World’s Worst Security Guard (Niecy Nash), Grace’s father Wes (Oliver Hudson) and KKT’s National president Gigi (Nasim Pedrad) who has a weird obsession with the 90s, but is everyone really as innocent as they seem…?
I think the reason this show is so fantastic is because of its ability to mock itself: it takes the stereotypes that we see in horror films and American movies and parodies them in a smart and witty way. It’s with this sense of mockery that the show’s ridiculously unbelievable storyline of a killer being on the loose for what seems to be an entire school year totally plausible, because we know that it’s all a mockery. Every scene is packed with one-liners and such well-oiled humour that it astounds me they can contrast it with such vulgar and graphic slasher horror; the title sequence is a pretty good port of call for the horror aspect of the show, whereas the full trailer is a good shout for if you want to see how funny the show can be.
There’s something so sexy about this show and so appealing that makes it so enjoyable to watch. It’s not the kind of lowkey horror that makes you feel uncomfortable and like you don’t want to be a part of it, but it’s the lavish lifestyle and suggestive nature of the characters that actually makes me want to be a part of their world so badly. It’s this sense of kooky coolness that really gives this show its relatable edge and I think it’s that that makes this weird and unique mix of comedy and horror work so successfully, without being tiring like the Scary Movie series; though this show is similar in its comedy, there is a serious ‘whodunnit?’ storyline to the show that really makes it watchable and gripping.
If you’re in the UK and you’ve been waiting for the premiere of this show then worry no less: Scream Queens is ‘coming soon’ to E4 and is probably going to premiere at the beginning of November. Can’t wait that long? Watch the UK trailer here or catch some clips of the show on Scream Queens’ YouTube channel.

A Must-See: Disney Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’

I started Shaunyland by writing a movie review of the stage-to-screen adaptation of Les Miserables so I thought I’d take a short break from American Month (and the flop that that is) today and give you a review of one of my new favourite films of all time, Inside Out.
I adore Disney and if you didn’t know that already then I don’t know where on Earth you have been. As a result of my passions, I rushed down to the first screening of the new Pixar film on Friday morning, the day the film was released in UK cinemas (I actually considered catching the film in New York the day it came out in America but I resisted temptation). To summarise my opinions simply: not only is this film a genius in how well crafted the story is, which in turn is set on a background that is both visually stunning and incredibly well imagined, but the film is also genius in the stunning animation and voice acting and the general craft behind an animated motion picture. I adore it, and I hope you all will adore it too.
The story follows an 11 year old girl named Riley and her mother and father who move from Minnesota to San Francisco on behalf of her father’s job. In contrast to this story of Riley’s move and her settling in to her new life, we meet the five dominant emotions in her head and the world that they all live in: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Fear (Bill Hader). The emotions introduce us to this fantastically well-imagined idea of how the brain works and how our personalities are constructed as well as our dreams and our memories which is expertly thought out. When Sadness starts to overtake Joy in being Riley’s dominant emotion though, Joy and Sadness end up in a feud in Riley’s brain which mirrors her loneliness and struggle in her new life. As a result, Joy and Sadness are taken across Riley’s brain and must find their way back to the main control centre of Riley’s mind which, for the time being, has been left in the hands of Disgust, Fear and Anger… three emotions that don’t have the best result on an 11 year old little girl. The story is expertly well written and wonderfully executed.
Like I said before, the concept of the film is a genius one. Every aspect of the brain and psyche that you could ever think of has been given a wonderful Disney-esque explanation and it’s so charming to see such a well crafted idea come to life. Not only that but the two storylines that run in parallel to one another are so moving and heartwarming that you will be hard-pressed to not cry (I never cry at movies but I cried twice at this film… it’s so touching). As well as the expertly crafted storyline is the stunning animation which even though that isn’t a deciding factor for some, it’s still lovely to see. The world in Riley’s brain is so filled with gorgeous colour and detail that the visual aspect of the film left me stunned a few times. A stunning watch and a perfect example of some perfect animation. The voice cast contribute to this with perfection and every single cast member plays the part perfectly; I don’t think I have seen such a stellar performance in the cast of an animated film since the Toy Story movies.
I truly think that this is one of Pixar’s best yet and is definitive proof that animated features are not a dying art form. This film is one that someone of any age can engage with and understand and connect with too and for that reason, this film is a must-see. Go and see it!

Why Disney’s New ‘Cinderella’ Is What Childhood Dreams Are Made Of

I’ve adored Disney animated classics for as long as I can remember, but when I was little, there were two films I remember sticking out most prominently to me: the 1994 classic Beauty and the Beast, and the 1950 classic Cinderella. I was always transfixed by their true magic and the beauty behind the stories and the characters; Belle was a young girl who held so much promise and had such drive and the same would go for Cinderella as they were both dreamers in their own right. I’ve always been a dreamer myself and these stories pushed my dreams even further, so when I found out Cinderella was being turned into a live-action retelling a couple of years ago, I started to count down the days and suddenly, Friday the 27th of March 2015 was upon us.
I honestly cannot put into words how magical this retelling is. From the first frame, I was absorbed by the stunning visuals in the set and the costume; by the beautiful cinematography and the gorgeously magical score. It was the sense of true Disney magic that really set the water works off for me though. It was the the sparkle and glamour in the transformation scene that made me feel so truly happy and the raw beauty in the scenes where Ella is alone with the Prince in the castle’s gardens that reminded me of the magic and joy the original film has evoked within me for so many years. It’s the opening of ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’ that makes me grin from ear to ear and the gorgeous sound of ‘A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes’ (one of my all-time favourite songs) that fills me with dreams and genuine happiness. 
Touching on the leading lady of the film herself, like I said earlier, I think of Cinderella as such a fantastic role model. Though it may well seem like a taboo thing to think because all Disney Princesses are (supposedly) terrible role models because of how they end up, I find Cinderella’s attitudes endearing and inspiring. This re-telling especially focuses on Ella’s curiosity and fantastic use of her imagination and impeccable knowledge from a young age, as well as her compassion for others. She lives by the motto her mother left her with (“have courage and be kind”) and strives to do just that through her whole life, even as she suffers the power struggle between herself and her step-family. Constantly, Cinderella holds onto her dreams for greater things in life and she continues to hold onto that ambition throughout the story and beyond; it is this that I believe makes the story so magical, which in turn inspires so many childhood dreams.
If you haven’t taken a trip to see this new re-telling at the cinema yet then I seriously cannot recommend it enough, especially if you’re a fan of the original animated classic – there really isn’t a better way to spend an afternoon this Easter break. I truly hope that the dreamy-sounding live-action version of Beauty and the Beast that’s based on the Broadway musical shapes up to be as beautiful as this Cinderella re-telling. But for now, take a couple of minutes to listen to Lily James’ new version of A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes and bask in your childhood dreams. You can thank me later.

What Glee (and more importantly, Rachel Berry) Has Meant To Me

Some people have their hearts stolen by the people they fall in love with but almost six years ago, my heart was stolen by a musical TV show: ‘Glee’. Though it may sound totally ridiculous and cliche, I really would not be the person that I am today without the inspiration and love that my passion for Glee over the past six years has filled me with and more importantly, without the parallels between myself and Lea Michele’s character Rachel Berry that I identified many years ago.
I started watching Glee in May 2009 when the show first aired in the US after my aunt pointed me in the show’s direction. She knew all too well that I had a huge passion for the arts and a drive towards a shining career on the stage (even though I’d only just gone past my tenth birthday). I took to the internet with my new red laptop (which I’m writing this article on six years later), found the Pilot episode online, watched it, and instantly fell in love. I watched the episode religiously; this show literally took all of the hopes and desires I had inside of me and put them on a TV show. It was then that I saw myself in Rachel Berry; a young girl whose drive towards a career on Broadway replicated my drive scarily well. Everything about her represented the way I saw myself and it wasn’t long until I found the online community filled with other ‘Gleeks’ that shared the same passion for these characters as I did. When the Pilot episode was released on DVD in the UK, I used to watch it “literally over and over again – the DVD never came out of the DVD player” so my mum tells me. I remember when the first Glee album came out and my mum tried to hide it from me so she could give it to me for Christmas in 2009 but she gave in and let me find it in her wardrobe and listen to the whole thing once over – I literally sat in front of out HiFi in our flat and listened to the music exclusively from the first to the last track. I soon discovered that the singles that weren’t on the albums were on iTunes and my mum bought me a new iPod to put every single single that was released onto, along with all of my Broadway cast recordings. Glee fast became my life; it was like watching a Broadway show that I knew so well and loved so much every single week.
Glee also helped me to shape who I am as a person and even though it started with Rachel Berry (more from that later), it was Chris Colfer’s character Kurt Hummel that made the show so much realer for me. At 10 years old, I hadn’t opened myself up to the world of identifying my sexuality and I saw parallels in the way Kurt saw some of the men around him and how I saw some of the men around me. I soon realised that the way Kurt felt about people around him and the way I felt about people around me was so similar and it was this realisation that prompted me into working out sexuality and what mine really was. Without Kurt Hummel, I don’t think I would be anywhere near as open or aware of who I am from a personal perspective as I do today; I wouldn’t truly know who I am even though I thought I did and I certainly would not be as happy as I am today either.
However, it was one Miss Rachel Berry that has properly shaped the person that I am today. I walked into Glee’s pathway as a ten year old whose dream was to be on a Broadway stage and someone who would do absolutely anything to get to his main goal of eventually winning a Tony Award. On the screen in front of me, I saw a quirky young girl who was paving her way to doing exactly that. She knew every Broadway show backwards much like myself, she was bossy and self-confident (unfortunatly, also much like myself), and she was so well aware of her dreams and so driven to reach them (exactly like myself). As the show progressed, I watched Rachel grow and show me the way to reach my Broadway dreams: she got into the Arts college in New York she’d always wanted to go to, she landed her dream role in Funny Girl on Broadway and to top it all of, she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in the show’s finale last night; the show unexpectedly ended with my role model reaching my ultimate dream. Since day one, Rachel Berry’s life on screen has been a guide that I could read as she went on and did exactly what I’ve seen myself doing all my life and without the guide and constant reminder of what I’ve always wanted, I honestly believe I would only be a shadow of the person that I am today. Rachel Berry is my biggest role model and at times, I’ve almost referred to her as my bestest friend. Without her and Lea Michele who portrays her, I really wouldn’t know that everything I’ve always dreamed of is a dream that can become a reality.
I’ve seen myself in all of these characters and every single one of them has helped me work my way into teenage life right from a ten year old in the wake of his parent’s divorce, to a 16 year old who is reaching the end of his main-stem high school career. Thank you Glee for giving me so much joy over these past six years and for truly making me who I am today. I cry as I write this ode to you because I truly cannot believe that it’s time for me to spread my wings and fly from the nest but thanks to you, I now know exactly where I’m headed and for that, I thank you.

Make ‘Em Laugh: DVDs to make you smile

I was going to simply start a blog post with an apology for the lack of contact on Shaunyland in the past week or so but I decided that I’d turn my excuse into a fun blog post. I haven’t been feeling all too good this week (I think I’ve been a little bit too stressed out if I’m honest with you) and because of my obsession with DVDs and movies, I’ve been re-watching some of my favourite feel-good ones. So, in case you’re feeling the same as I am at the moment or you’re simply on the hunt for some giggles, here are some of my favourite movies to make me feel a little bit better.

The most obvious choice would be a stand-up DVD and because I find him totally hilarious, I’ve been loving the Alan Carr Spexy Beast tour DVD. I’ve actually got this on in front of me for the third time in the past fortnight and I’m still having to stop what I’m doing to burst out into laughter every minute or so! It’s pretty difficult to find the kind of stand-up comedian you find funny, though. My personal favourites are Sarah Millican, Alan Carr and Shappi Khorsandi but I know that people like Abbie find Russell Brand funny who I find seriously irritating. I think you have to take a look at compilation stand-up shows first like Comedy Roadshow or Live At The Apollo but when you find the few that you like, their shows become a serious pick-me-up.

Another pretty obvious choice for a film to make you happy again are rom-com’s and a personal favourite has to be Bridget Jones’s Diary. With all the hype surrounding the new book coming in from left right and centre, I’ve really felt the need to go back and watch the first two movies to get into the spirit. I totally love these movies and there are scenes in both that I still find hilarious after having watched it a million and one times. Other favourites of mine include Juno, Love Actually and Confessions of a Shopaholic.

The third and final category for feel-good movies is the inspirational movies category. I chose Tangled as the face for this section even though I love a heck of a lot of movies from this category. I think heart-warming stories like Tangled (or any Disney movie for that matter) make me feel uplifted and motivated. It was pretty hard to choose between photographing a Disney DVD or an Audrey Hepburn movie (which I love just as much, if not more, than a good Disney movie) but the music of Tangled just makes me feel so happy, too. Other favourites include Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Funny Face, Roman Holiday, Pocahontas, Mulan and Lilo & Stitch.

Do you have any favourite feel-good movies?

Les Misérables review

Hi guys and welcome to my first post. My name’s Shaun and I’d love to post things related to lifestyle, books, fashion, general chatting and probably my favourite thing ever: theatre. And how can I resist when the latest big movie hit is a film adaption of my favourite musical, Les Misérables?..

Les Misérables (Les Miz for short) opened on London’s West End in 1985 as a sung-through musical. Originally opening to terrible reviews from the critics, the show has managed to show them wrong and is still in high booking to this day. 
The new 2012/2013 film (Christmas Day 2012 if you’re from America and Friday the 11th of January 2013 if you’re from the UK) stars Broadway and Hollywood veteran Hugh Jackman as the leading man, Jean Valjean; a prisoner of 19 years after stealing of loaf of bread who escapes from prison and finds fortunes. Valjean bumps into workgirl-turned-prostitute Fantine (played by Anne Hathaway and best known for singing the show’s most popular song, “I Dreamed A Dream”) who’s near to death. He takes her to a hospital where she tells him that her dying wish is for him to find her daughter, Cosette, who she left with an innman and his wife in Paris. Valjean heads straight to Paris to find Cosette and finds her being looked after the rather heartless Thenadier (Sacha Baron-Cohen) and his wife, Madame Thenadier (played by Sweeney Todd and Harry Potter star Helena Bonham-Carter). He takes Cosette off of their hands for a large sum of money which leaves the Thenadiers with their other adopted daughter, Eponine. But even though Valjean has found fortune, he’s still being hunted by his old prison guard, Javert (Russell Crowe).
Ten years later and Eponine is keeping the town’s boys on their feet and especially her love interest, Marius (Eddie Redmayne). Sadly though, Eponine (now played by Samantha Barks) doesn’t feel she can share her love for him because they’ve been best friends for most of their lives. One day, Valjean (now a very, very rich man) comes to investigate the area with his very beautiful adoptive daughter, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) where she and Marius catch eyes across the courtyard and fall instantly in love which Eponine sadly see’s… BUT I’LL SAVE THE REST FOR YOU TO SEE ON THE SCREEN!
In my opinion as a Les Miz enthusiast for quite a long time now, I thought the film had it’s strong points and it’s weak points. As a movie and for people who haven’t seen Les Miz before, it’s a perfect portrayl of both the story and the music and does the show justice in every way. They story line is very well described and the music is beautiful. The one thing that lacked for me though was the weak vocals from some of the actors that possibly could have been cast a little better. It also didn’t seem to  grasp my attention as much as the stage show did and especially in the scene’s that weren’t so intimate. I think the three highlights/best done points of the movie were Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream”, Samantha Barks’ rendition of “On My Own”, and Samantha and Eddie Redmayne’s rendition of “A Little Fall Of Rain” (when Eponine sadly dies). 
I give this movie a very strong 4.5/5 for it’s many good points beating significantly smaller list of criticism. If you’re thinking about seeing this, you MUST go.
Join me back here at next Monday evening for another blog post from me!
Keep safe everyone and enjoy the snow if you’re getting any!
Shaun x